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(Your) top sound or top comfort

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  • (Your) top sound or top comfort

    I've had more headspace recently to return to making finer, lasting changes on my stand of pipes. I will always tinker here and there but I'm ready to have things settled for a good while so I can shift focus to the music alone. In choosing where I want to settle I've come across this trade off of what's most comfortable to play overall, but is decent sounding, versus what is less comfortable to play, but produces a sound that I get lost in. Everything is a compromise, but which direction..

    It seems obvious that finding your top comfort should always come first. There is no enjoyment in piping if you are working against yourself or your pipes. If so, it's more of a struggle than the instrument already is and you'll come away drained, fighting tension, and not achieving your goals.

    It seems obvious that finding your top sound should always come first. There is no enjoyment in piping if the tone you are producing doesn't push you to play your best and keep picking the instrument up. If so, it's more of a struggle than the instrument already is you'll come away drained, frustrated, and disconnected with the music.
    Happy Piping

  • #2
    I've actually been struggling with comfort lately, having had to switch my bag from a stiffer hybrid bag to a more flexible synthetic material bag. I'm not sure if having moved back to a big city with "city air" is responsible for this or if I've suffered long lasting damage to my lungs from maybe having COVID at some point (can't confirm that), but I've found it harder to breathe in the past few months. So I've switched to an easier reed and an easier bag. So far it's kind of working. I don't get to practice as much as I used to, so I haven't really known my pipes well.

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    • #3
      What are you modifying in terms of sound and comfort? Drone reeds, chanter reed, bag…?

      I would lean towards sound being more important (sound is what we are making after all).

      That being said, you can’t make a good sound on a set you can’t play.
      You don't have fun by winning. You win by having fun.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm with you, William. I will add, however, that what is satisfying is somewhat a function of one's experience and "ear". For instance, a beginner may be very satisfied in being able to tune their own drones and stay in tune. In time--again with some caveats--they may not be satisfied with tuning alone; rather searching for the better tone you mention...a subjective measurement. That, in turn, may also be somewhat dependent upon comfort. Even experienced pipers may be switching to, or at least considering, some newer options; or even older ones (e.g., sheepskin). I guess all that is riding some sort of trajectory; and, as I said, is quite subjective. How many times have we heard someone playing who appears to be quite happy/satisfied with their setup while our own spine is threatening to abandon our body and throttle said player?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by salmunmousavi View Post
          I've actually been struggling with comfort lately, having had to switch my bag from a stiffer hybrid bag to a more flexible synthetic material bag. I'm not sure if having moved back to a big city with "city air" is responsible for this or if I've suffered long lasting damage to my lungs from maybe having COVID at some point (can't confirm that), but I've found it harder to breathe in the past few months. So I've switched to an easier reed and an easier bag. So far it's kind of working. I don't get to practice as much as I used to, so I haven't really known my pipes well.
          A non-piper friend of mine has had similar experiences with his breathing and has wondered if he had COVID when it first hit the scene, later tests were inconclusive. Glad to hear the easier reed and bag combination are making a difference. In general I think everyone should be playing an easier reed, anything over 30" in my opinion is pointless. I played a maker's pipes years ago (open player) and it was a fabric bag with an easy reed, that was the strangest experience for me. Easier reeds require more finesse I think but add in a bag that doesn't push back on your arm and it becomes even more finessed.
          Happy Piping

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jim Fogelman View Post
            What are you modifying in terms of sound and comfort? Drone reeds, chanter reed, bag?
            Four drone reed combinations. After playing through a couple of sessions and listening back to the recordings, it seems I keep coming back to one combination that is harder to maintain but gives me goose bumps versus another combination that is missing that specialness or sparkle but is much easier to "play in the pocket" so to speak. Separately I plan to move to the next sized down bag when discretionary money permits.

            Originally posted by Jim Fogelman View Post
            I would lean towards sound being more important (sound is what we are making after all).

            That being said, you can't make a good sound on a set you can't play.
            Fair points. It's tricky isn't it?
            Happy Piping

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by EquusRacer View Post
              I'm with you, William. I will add, however, that what is satisfying is somewhat a function of one's experience and "ear". For instance, a beginner may be very satisfied in being able to tune their own drones and stay in tune. In time--again with some caveats--they may not be satisfied with tuning alone; rather searching for the better tone you mention...a subjective measurement. That, in turn, may also be somewhat dependent upon comfort.
              That's some great perspective. For me it is stability #1, which I think I have found more or less after some focus. From that foundation, fine tuning (no pun intended) for best comfort and best sound.

              Originally posted by EquusRacer View Post
              Even experienced pipers may be switching to, or at least considering, some newer options; or even older ones (e.g., sheepskin). I guess all that is riding some sort of trajectory; and, as I said, is quite subjective. How many times have we heard someone playing who appears to be quite happy/satisfied with their setup while our own spine is threatening to abandon our body and throttle said player?
              Trajectory.. very interesting observation! I don't think I have thought of it like this before. I view it like I'm competing with myself to feel/hear what my body and brain are capable of, where ever that takes me? Of course, I would love to reach G2 or even G1.

              I like the anthropomorphism. My board exams felt like this, some cohorts just brushing up on topics for a weekend to pass while I spent weeks and weeks and still felt demoralized afterward. I put such a large emphasis on getting my blowing rock solid and it's always interesting for me to watch the open players because they appear so relaxed about it typically (while of course displaying impeccable blowing/squeezing).
              Last edited by William McKenzie; 10-14-2021, 04:44 PM. Reason: Missing quote
              Happy Piping

              Comment


              • #8

                [QUOTE Jim Fogelman]

                I would lean towards sound being more important (sound is what we are making after all).

                That being said, you can't make a good sound on a set you can't play.

                [/QUOTE]


                Greetings to All,

                I shall concur with both his first observation--and--with--his second
                statement. :-)

                For now these Long Times Past--I have been "settled in" with the same
                synthie drone reeds--and synthie chanter reeds--for my two sets of
                Cocuswood pipes--and my one set of ABW pipes--and it is the sound--
                that has brought--and kept me--"settled in"--with these specific reeds.

                But when--and as--the occasion calls for it--I change to my "tried and
                true"--cane--and all is--and equally--well with the playing.

                And--concomitant with all of that--is the ease--and the lack of worry--
                that comes from having those well-known--and well-seasoned--reeds
                in the pipes.

                Wishing for All--the Best of Good Fortune--in finding their "right and
                proper"--combination!!,

                Pip01






                Last edited by Pip01; 10-14-2021, 02:10 PM.
                My friends all know,
                With what a brave carouse...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by William McKenzie View Post
                  I've had more headspace recently to return to making finer, lasting changes on my stand of pipes. I will always tinker here and there but I'm ready to have things settled for a good while so I can shift focus to the music alone. In choosing where I want to settle I've come across this trade off of what's most comfortable to play overall, but is decent sounding, versus what is less comfortable to play, but produces a sound that I get lost in. Everything is a compromise, but which direction..
                  What aspect of the better-sounding set up makes it less accessible physically?
                  Serving Jello with a ladle since... forever

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I feel that the two (sound and comfort) are not mutually exclusive. But I understand that, in some ways, it depends on your level and what you want to achieve.

                    I don't want to sound like I'm twisting the tail of a cat, or in choke city. I want to be lost in my drones and chanter, to the point where I can feel every vibration. So you absolutely need both (sound and comfort) to be successful at playing the instrument.

                    If you're a newish player, your goals will be different. You *will* just want to make a sound, and work on making it consistently well. So you may sacrifice some sound to gain the comfort in order to practice the technique.

                    The really good tone/tuning comes much later on.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Pip01 View Post
                      "I would lean towards sound being more important (sound is what we are making after all).

                      That being said, you can't make a good sound on a set you can't play."

                      Greetings to All,

                      I shall concur with both his first observation--and--with--his second
                      statement. :-)

                      For now these Long Times Past--I have been "settled in" with the same
                      synthie drone reeds--and synthie chanter reeds--for my two sets of
                      Cocuswood pipes--and my one set of ABW pipes--and it is the sound--
                      that has brought--and kept me--"settled in"--with these specific reeds.

                      Pip01
                      I think I'm leaning towards this as well, putting the sound slightly ahead of the comfort.

                      Originally posted by jackhawkpiper97 View Post
                      What aspect of the better-sounding set up makes it less accessible physically?
                      For me it's two things: drone reed combinations and a pipe bag size reduction.

                      The for me bag is more straightforward. I can tell I'm just on the edge of comfort with the medium but can't quite "get there". I'll just have to deal with adjusting my blowing in a smaller bag. Now do I go back to a hybrid with zero maintenance and always airtight? or stick with the same goatskin with that superior tone and feel but constant maintenance?

                      Drone reeds are more finessed. One combination perk my eyebrows while listening but they tune differently, IE go out of sync with subtle changes. Another combination is more stable, but isn't my personal superior tone.
                      Happy Piping

                      Comment

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